April is a month of plenty. Rain falls from dark detailed clouds, sprouting luscious green grass. Sunrise radiates vibrant golden hues across the plains, highlighting details in the distant escarpment. Lions patrol their territory under the alarm calls of birds.
Lioness at sunrise – photo credit Felix Rome
Elephants constantly roam the open plains with many little legs trying to keep up. Every corner of the Masai Mara has something unique to offer. April is a time of spoil.
Mother elephant and her young calf – photo credit Felix Rome
The rains have been infrequent with long spells of clear skies throughout the month. Towards the end of the month the dark clouds arrived. We had 91mm with an average temperature of 25ºC. The evenings tend to be cooler and relaxing around the camp fire after a wonderful day, is that much more enjoyable.
The Musiara Marsh is incredibly lush and bright green due to it being saturated with water. It’s the ideal place for many species to spend the day. Waterbuck have gathered in large herds as males compete for the right to mate.
Females and male waterbuck – photo credit Felix Rome
Hippos have been spoiled with choice and can often be found in small ‘luggas’ scattered all throughout the marsh. Elephants have spent each day in the marsh feeding on the luscious vegetation. A herd, 100 strong, crossed the Mara River from the Mara Triangle on the 5th April to feed in the marsh; as soon as our guests left their camp, they saw the elephants.
Photo credit Felix Rome
Buffalo have also been enjoying the marsh and can be seen scattered amongst herds of elephants and the occasional hippo. The Bila Shaka males noticed this abundance of prey and spent a lot of time around the marsh, just beyond Little Governors’ Camp, during mid-April. They have been targeting hippo and buffalo, with much success.
There are lots of baby animals in the Masai Mara during April – photo credit Felix Rome
Servals have been making lots of appearances around the marsh and have been seen multiple times by our guests as they leave for game drives in the early morning. One rather young female has become used to cars and carries on hunting when you are around. However, our guides feel it is best to keep the number of vehicles to a minimum, allowing the small cat to not be disturbed.
An African serval – photo credit Felix Rome
Due to the abundance of food, game is spread far and wide, covering every corner of the Mara. The Paradise Plains have been covered in herds of elephants and many young calves are taking their first steps under the careful guidance of their mother. Groups of around fifty individuals have been grazing in the open with fantastic views of the Oloololo escarpment behind.
Impalas have been bounding across the open plains, with females making daring escapes from the leading male, sometimes jumping several meters high. Hartebeests have gathered in small herds and they too, have young calves to look after.
A female impala darts away from a persistent male – photo credit Felix Rome
Hyena have been on constant patrol, always on the lookout for the next meal. Lots of young pups are around and they are becoming more adventurous, often seen venturing away from the den. However, the mothers are always there to keep a watchful eye for any potential threats.
A hyena carries her cub in her mouth – photo credit Felix Rome
Giraffes have gathered in ‘towers’ which can be seen from miles away. They tend to reside in the bushes and riverine forests, as that is their food source. Every now and then, they undertake large journeys across the open grassland, seeking new feeding grounds.
A classic Mara sighting – a tower of giraffes – photo credit Felix Rome
On the 8th of April, a huge tower of ten adults and four calves was seen watching a lion hunt a warthog in the open. It was a fantastic sighting as you could watch a lion stalking to your left, and a tower of giraffe to your right.
Lioness hunts a family of warthogs – photo credit Felix Rome
The Marsh Pride have been moving around a lot this month. Their usual territory along the Bila Shaka lugga has been a good place to start looking for them but they can also be found down towards Little Governors’ Camp and occasionally, as far up as Paradise Plains.
The Marsh Pride at the Bila shaka area – photo credit Felix Rome
Marsh Pride female Lola and her cub – photo credit Felix Rome
They have been making the most of the large breeding herd of buffalos that reside around their territory. They have been seen hunting at all hours of the day. One of their most significant and recent meals was that of a large buffalo that they killed in the early hours on the 25th of April in the Musiara Marsh.
Halftail has been under pressure from the Bila Shaka males who made an appearance in the middle of April. They have certainly been testing Halftail, who is ruler of the Marsh Pride, by chasing him and intimidating him with their calling at night.
Chongo – one of the Bila Shaka males – photo credit Felix Rome
Koshoke in the forest surrounding Il Moran – photo credit Felix Rome
The Bila Shaka males made the forest line outside Little Governors’ their home for a few weeks at the beginning of April. They successfully brought down a hippo and a buffalo right there, in that time.
Kiok heading out of the forest and into the Musiara marsh – photo credit Felix Rome
They could be heard roaring almost every night. They spent most of their time in the forest line but made some visits to the Marsh Pride to pressure Halftail. One morning, our guests saw them persistently chasing Halftail, thankfully he got away unharmed.
These males made an alliance with some members from the Riverline Pride (also known as the Kichwa Tembo Pride), who normally spend their time in the Mara Triangle, across the river. Three young males from the pride found it hard to get on with the four, larger males and often missed out on meals, so as to keep out of the way. We saw the young males hunting warthogs outside Little Governors’ and Governors’ camp on two separate occasions, when the hunger had clearly set in.
A beautiful shot of the Riverline Pride in April – photo credit Felix Rome
Both the River Pride and the Bila Shaka have not been seen by us since the 20th April and are believed to have crossed back into the Mara Triangle.
The Paradise Pride have been busy raising new life. The young cubs have been seen twice by us, but are often kept well hidden away, while other members of the pride have kept busy patrolling their territory. The pride might have split up, but with new cubs, they may simply be giving the female and cubs some space.
Cheetah are becoming increasingly harder to find. Their numbers are dropping fast and are by no means a guaranteed sighting. Despite this, the ones that have been seen are looking healthy and making kills of smaller antelope and topi.
An April cheetah sighting – seen behind the Serena in the Mara Triangle – photo credit Felix Rome
Sadly, Romi the leopard, has yet to be seen since her assumed crossing to the Mara triangle in early March. However, the good news is that a young male leopard has been seen around the entrance to Little Governors’ and Governors’ Il Moran a few times. He is not overly shy and greeted several guests as they returned from game drives in the late evening. Siri’s female cub, has been seen several times this month high up in trees, often with an impala kill stashed away high up in a tree.
Siri’s female cub – photo credit Felix Rome
Bird life is in full force at the moment. Little bee-eaters squabble in the bushes as giant eagles circle above.
Red-collared widow birds are in full breeding plumage. The males have long tails and a red ring around their neck. They have been turning the female’s heads with their impressive breeding displays outside Governors’ Camp in the long elephant grass. Even if you are not an avid birder, it’s hard not to appreciate their beauty.
Large collections of grey-crowned cranes have gathered near the Musiara Airstrip. They are gathering to court and display, hoping to catch the eye of a mate. These cranes, which are the fastest declining species of cranes in the world, mate for life and can often seen on a safari in the Masai Mara.
The iconic lilac-breasted rollers are always widely admired by our guests. It’s hard not to stop and take in all the wonderful colours, especially if you see one at sunset.
A lilac-breasted roller’s feathers are illuminated by backlight – photo credit Felix Rome
Our Resident Photographer has this to say about April in the Masai Mara: “April is a stunning time of year for photography. The colours are incredibly vibrant which creates magnificent images. I believe it is the best time of year for epic sunrises. The colours you can see in the mornings often don’t look real. If you can find a subject to put in front of it, anyone can get great images. There are fewer people around and you are often the only one at a lion sighting. This means you can spend more time with them, really studying their behavior, helping you get greater images. The varying conditions allow you to get a lovely portfolio of images that look like they have been taken throughout a change of season, but it can be all in one day. I never know which is my favorite month to be on safari in the Mara, but I believe April is very close to being the best”
Our Masai Mara weather and wildlife for April 2023 is by Felix Rome, resident photographer for Governors’ Camp Collection. To see other amazing wildlife imagery by Felix, please follow him on Instagram.
Our resident photographers are available for photo safaris – find out more HERE.
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